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FCC Looks to Broadcast Spectrum to Power Future Wireless Devices

The FCC is asking for public comments on the possibility of allowing unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the spectrum band now occupied by TV broadcasters.

The commission called the existing rules for unlicensed transmitters a "tremendous success," which have led to the development of new wireless devices such as cellphones, home security systems, LANs and inventory control systems that have brought "significant benefits" to the economy. Perhaps anticipating concern from the broadcast community, the commission said that technology advances "may make it feasible to design new types of unlicensed devices that are able to share spectrum in the TV bands without causing interference to licensed services in those bands."

Commissioner Kevin Martin says he supports making more spectrum available for unlicensed devices but expressed concern over allowing such devices to operate in the broadcast band and said the move could jeopardize the transition to DTV.

Citing recent reports of interference among new DTV stations, Martin said the problem "threatens to impede the introduction of digital television." Martin also noted that difficulties have surfaced in existing unlicensed devices already operating in the TV band.